STUNNING RETURN TO FORM BY MERCEDES
THE Mercedes-Benz A-Class was for so long the oddity at the base of the range; a car that never seemed to communicate all that Mercedes did best in a small car. That has changed with the latest A-Class, which seems a stunning return to form from Mercedes.
The petrol engines range between 1.6- and 2.0-litre capacities and generate between 122bhp in the A180 and 156bhp in the A200 through to 211bhp in the A250. The diesel engines also feature sophisticated injection technology and turbocharging.
The A-Class has abandoned the one-box shape of its predecessor and even the entry-level models have a stance and attitude that looks sporting, and the upper specification cars look seriously purposeful. There's a decent amount of space inside although the focus has clearly been on improving perceived quality and offering a sportier feel.
All trim elements have been given an electroplated finish, resulting in real metal surfaces with a "cool touch" effect. Perhaps the most interesting design touch is what looks like an iPad sitting on the upper part of the centre console but which is in fact an integrated touch-screen system.
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It'll sync seamlessly with an iPhone and expect Android connectivity to follow in due course. It all feels beautifully built, in stark contrast to the first A-Class. There's a choice of four main trim levels – standard, SE, Sport and AMG Sport. Whichever A-Class variant you choose, all models come the basic equipment features you'd expect. As they progress up the range, customers can choose between various suspension settings, among them the optional sports suspension.
The A-Class also differentiates itself in this sector by being the only vehicle in its class to feature as standard a radar-based collision warning system.
It's all very clever but like the best technology, doesn't impose itself until it's actually needed.